Thursday, December 1, 2011

Easy homemade face moisturizers

Which kitchen cabinet ingredients are good to use as a natural homemade face moisturizer?
There are a few ingredients you can use when making a natural face moisturizer. These are specifically focused on the job
Besides the recipes below, you can carefully experiment with these specific ingredients and design your own signature homemade face moisturizer
  • Almond oil
  • Aloe Vera
  • Apricot & Apricot oil
  • Avocado & Avocado oil
  • Banana
  • Chamomile
  • Cream Cheese
  • Coconut oil
  • Cornmeal
  • Cucumber
  • Egg yolk
  • Ginkgo Biloba
  • Honey
  • Jojoba oil
  • Macadamia Nut Oil
  • Oats or Oatmeal
  • Olive oil
  • Peanut oil oil
  • Sesame oil
  • Shea butter
  • Sunflower oil
  • More Natural Vegetable Oils like: Apricot Kernel oil, Peach Kernel oil, Soy Bean oil, Safflower oil, Wheat Germ oil
As you can see, some or most of these you will probably already have in your kitchen cabinets or fridge. No need to buy expensive facial moisturizers with designer labels to hydrate your facial skin; it is possible to do-it-yourself
It's that easy! You can apply one alone, or mix two or a few of them. After that you can also add whatever ingredient you think will satisfy your needs; 

Homemade face moisturizer

This homemade facial moisturizer also makes your face glow
What do you need:
  • 1 fresh Lime (juice)
  • 1/4 cup boiled whole Milk
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin Olive oil
How to do it:
Mix the ingredients well; you can keep this for a few days in the fridge

Homemade face moisturizer

What do you need:
  • 1 fresh ripe Peach
  • Heavy cream
How to do it:
Peel the peach and take out the pit, mash it to a pulp. Strain this through a sieve to extract all the juice. Mix the peach juice with an equal quantity of heavy cream. You can keep this refrigerated for a few days.

A homemade facial moisturizer that will leave your skin feeling silky soft and smooth. Honey is a natural humectant which means it attracts moisture and keeps it where it belongs: under your skin
What do you need:
  • 1 teaspoon dark organic Honey
  • 1 tablespoon Coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh Lemon juice
How to do it:
Mix the ingredients to a smooth cream; you can keep this in the fridge for a few days

Homemade face moisturizer 
A super hydrating homemade facial moisturizer
What do you need:
  • 1/4 cup cooked Oatmeal
  • 1 tablespoon Aloe vera gel
  • 2 tablespoons dark organic Honey
How to do it:
Mix the ingredients to a smooth cream; you can keep this in the fridge for a few days

Homemade face moisturizer 

A protein rich homemade facial moisturizer that will also soothe and nourish your skin
What do you need:
  • 1 Egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup whole Milk
  • 1 tablespoon Grape seed oil
How to do it:
Mix the ingredients to a smooth cream; you can keep this in the fridge for a few days

Homemade face moisturizer 

Glycerin is also a very powerful humectant that attracts water and feeds it to your skin
What do you need:
  • Rose water
  • Glycerin
How to do it:
Mix 2 parts rose water and 1 part glycerin and make a lotion. Apply it nightly and let it work into your skin

Homemade face moisturizer 

This sounds like a very old fashioned natural moisturizer, and it probably is. But we heard from many sides that it is a surprisingly effective way to moisturize your skin
What do you need:
  • Natural Margarine
How to do it:
You can buy natural margarine in your health food store. Not the one you buy in the supermarket. Smooth this on your skin and it will gratefully absorb the natural oils, you'll be surprised. Will not leave any residue on your skin

Homemade face moisturizer 
A homemade facial moisturizer especially for dry skin
What do you need:
  • 1 fresh ripe Peach
  • 1 tablespoon Coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon Almond oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon Orange oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon Rose water
How to do it:
Peel the peach and take out the pit, mash it to a pulp. Strain through a sieve or muslin and add the rest of the ingredients. Whip this until it becomes fluffy. You can keep this in the fridge for a few days

Some words of caution: Because you can never be too careful when it comes to your skin, always do a patch test on a small piece of skin (e.g. behind the ear) to see how your skin reacts to separate ingredients.

The worst ingredients found in face creams and lotions

What skincare companies would prefer you didn’t know about the toxic chemicals contained in their products

In my 20 year quest to seek out the best anti-aging creams, I have found a boat full of lies and fancy packaging that tells you everything you want to hear, But the truth of the matter is your paying top dollar to destroy your skin. Behind the glossy images in magazines and on television there lies a dangerous secret. Most skincare products …. even the so called “natural” ones ….contain many of the same harsh chemicals used in industrial processes.
These chemicals are known to cause a wide range of adverse health effects, ranging from skin irritation to cancer. But the skincare companies don’t want you to know this.
If you knew the truth, you’d have second thoughts about buying many of the most popular skincare products on the market … even the expensive brands.

Dangerous ingredients to look out for in skincare products

The following list contains some of the most common ingredients used in skincare products, which have proven adverse health effects. I recommend you avoid products that contain any of these ingredients, good luck finding one.
Acrylamide: Found in many hand and face creams. Studies suggest it may cause breast tumors.
Alcohols: ethanol, ethyl alcohol, methanol, benzyl alcohol, isopropyl alcohol and SD alcohol - Very drying and irritating for the skin. Alcohols strip away the skin's natural acid mantle, making you more vulnerable to bacteria, moulds and viruses. May promote brown spots and premature aging of skin. (Note: We do use stearyl and cetearyl alcohol, which are waxes and have nothing in common with the alcohols listed above.)
DEA (diethanolamine), MEA (monoethanolamine), and TEA (triethanolamine): Often used in skincare products to adjust the pH. TEA causes allergic reactions including eye problems, dryness of hair and skin, and could be toxic if absorbed into the body over a long period of time. These chemicals are already restricted in Europe due to known carcinogenic effects.
Dioxane: (a synthetic derivative of coconut). Widely used in skincare products. Usually contains high concentrations of 1,4-dioxane, easily absorbed through the skin. 1,4-dioxane is considered a chemical "known to the State of California to cause cancer." It is a by-product of the cancer-causing petrochemical ethylene oxide, which is used as part of a process called ethoxylation, which makes harsh ingredients milder.
1,4-Dioxane is also suspected of being a kidney toxicant, neurotoxicant and respiratory toxicant, among others, according to the California EPA. It is also a leading groundwater contaminant.
Fragrance: The term ‘fragrance’ is a real minefield. It can refer to up 4000 separate ingredients, many toxic or carcinogenic. Many common fragrances can affect the central nervous system, causing depression, hyperactivity, and irritability.
Mineral oil: liquid paraffin, paraffin wax, petrolatum – a petroleum by-product that coats the skin to keep in moisture. It clogs the pores, interferes with skin's ability to eliminate toxins, encouraging acne and other disorders. Can cause photosensitivity and strips the natural oils from the skin causing chapping and dryness, also premature ageing. Any mineral oil derivative can be contaminated with cancer causing PAH's (Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons). Skincare manufacturers use mineral oil because it’s cheap.
Nitrosamines: Can be formed in skincare products when amines (such as DEA, MEA or TEA) are combined with formaldehyde-releasing preservatives (such as bronopol or quaternium-15). Nitrosamines are known to be carcinogenic.
Padimate-O: (also known as octyl dimethyl) - found mostly in sunscreens. Like DEA, a nitrosamine-forming agent. There is concern that the energy absorbed by this sunscreen is then turned into free radicals, which may actually increase the risk of skin cancer!
Parabens: methyl, propyl, butyl, and ethyl paraben – Widely used as a preservative in skincare products (including moisturizers). Studies suggest they may cause cancer and interfere with the body’s endocrine system, as well as causing allergic reactions and skin rashes.
Phenol carbolic acid: Found in many lotions and skin creams. Can cause circulatory collapse, paralysis, convulsions, coma and even death from respiratory failure.
Polyethylene glycol (PEG): Widely used as an emulsifier and humectant. Suspected of being carcinogenic.
Rancid natural emollients: Natural oils used in skincare products should be cold pressed. When oils are refined, they are stripped of vital nutrients and also contain poisonous trans fatty acids. Natural oils can also go rancid if kept past their use-by date.
Toluene: Made from petroleum or coal tar, and found in most synthetic fragrances. Chronic exposure linked to anemia, lowered blood cell count, liver or kidney damage, and may affect a developing fetus. Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) contains toluene. Other names may include benzoic and benzyl.
Triclosan: An anti-bacterial agent, widely used in skincare products (also used in weed killers). There is evidence to suggest triclosan may contribute to creating strains of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics, due to its wide use in skincare products.
It is virtually impossible to find a product that does not list these ingredients, there are a couple out there, but not many...So the best advice I can give you, is eat healthier and use homemade products...they are easy to make, also use fresh fruits as facials. I have recipes in my other blogs for you.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

12 Household Toxins You Should Banish from Your Home

1. Antibacterial soap

The dirt: The antimicrobial chemical triclosan, used in some toothpastes and antibacterial soaps, is believed to disrupt thyroid function and hormone levels in people; when it mixes into wastewater, it can cause sex changes in aquatic life. And health experts believe that overuse of this and other antibacterial chemicals is promoting the growth of bacteria that are resistant to antibacterial treatment.

Better alternative: Good old-fashioned soap and warm water will kill just as many germs, studies have shown. If you must use a hand sanitizer, pick one that’s alcohol based and doesn’t list triclosan, triclocarban (another related antibacterial chemical) or other chemicals described as "antimicrobial" or "antibacterial" on the label.

2. Synthetic Pesticides

Chemical weed, fungus, and bug killers all fit under this category and should be avoided both inside and outside of your house. Researchers have linked these pesticides to various forms of cancer, including non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma; insecticides have been connected to brain damage in kids. “This is a good time of the year to resolve not to use pesticides on lawns and gardens,” says Phil Landrigan, MD, director of Mount Sinai's Children's Environmental Health Center, and advisor. “A few dandelions or buttercups or other little flowers in the middle of the lawn are not unsightly.”

Better alternative: Combating an indoor bug problem is as simple as cleaning up crumbs, sealing food in containers, and using wood shims and a caulking gun to fill pest entry points. If you’re spending big bucks on chemicals for a turflike lawn, reconsider. Pesticides and chemical fertilizers kill the health of the soil and create a lawn that allows for little rainwater absorption, which contributes to flooding. Try replacing some sod with plants native to your area; they don’t require as much water and maintenance.

If you’re set on the idea of a perfect grassy lawn, practice proven organic lawn-care techniques, such as mowing with the deck set at at least 3 inches high.

3. Synthetic Fragrances

Fragrance may be the most common type of chemical in your house. Used in laundry detergents, fabric softeners, dryer sheets, cleaning supplies, disinfectants, air fresheners, deodorizers, shampoos, hair sprays, gels, lotions, sunscreens, soaps, perfumes, powders, and scented candles—and dozens of other products you may not know about—fragrances are a class of chemicals that are well worth the time and effort to avoid. The term “fragrance” or “parfum” on personal-care-product labels can be a cover for hundreds of harmful chemicals known to be carcinogens, endocrine disrupters, and reproductive toxicants, even at low levels.

Better alternative: Go the unscented route whenever possible, especially with soaps and detergents. Avoid any kind of air freshener or deodorizer, including sprays, gels, solid disks, and oils, suggests Anne Steinemann, PhD, a University of Washington researcher who focuses on fragrances in consumer products. “These products do not clean or disinfect the air, but they do add hazardous chemicals to the air we breathe,” she says. “Instead of chemical air fresheners, freshen the air with better ventilation and by setting out some baking soda,” she suggests. You also can place a bowl of white vinegar in a room to dispel a funky smell.

4. Harsh Cleaning Products

Isn’t it ironic that we actually contaminate our air when we use harsh chemicals—some of which are known to cause cancer—to “clean” our homes? Ammonia can trigger asthma attacks, and harsh oven cleaners and drain openers can cause respiratory damage or burn the skin of children who come into contact with them.

Better alternative: Take any cleaner with an ingredient list that reads like a chemistry textbook to a hazardous waste disposal center in your municipality and replace it with an ecofriendly one that has simple, natural ingredients. Better yet, save tons of money and pull out Grandma’s homemade cleaning concoctions, including:

• A general cleaning solution of one part white vinegar and nine parts water will kill 90 percent of bacteria and many spores. Spray it on and let it dry to a nice shine on its own. The best surprise about distilled white vinegar? You can buy a gallon for less than $2 and make more than 10 gallons of cleaning solution. When you’re finished using a vinegar cleaning solution, dump it down your garbage disposal or toilet for bonus odor control.

• For a window/glass cleaner, mix one part white vinegar with one part water, and spray. You even can use newspapers instead of paper towels to wipe the glass clean and save money.

• When cleaning in the kitchen after prepping meat, use hot, soapy water first (we like simple, unscented castile soaps) and then follow with the vinegar-water solution. For extra germ-killing power, following the vinegar spraying with a spritz of hydrogen peroxide.

5. Nonstick Cookware and Bakeware

When you're cooking with nonstick pots and pans, you're essentially baking on plastic. That slick, shiny, enticingly nonstick surface is made from a synthetic material known as perfluoroalkyl acid, a class of chemicals that have been linked to ADHD, high cholesterol, and thyroid disease. They're also potent sperm killers and are suspected of contributing to female infertility.

Better alternative: Opt for safer cookware like made-in-America cast iron, glass or stainless steel. If you already cook with nonstick pots and pans, replace them with safer choices when you start seeing scratches and chips in the finish.

6. Roundup Ready Food

Roundup, the most widely used herbicide in the country, is sprayed on everything from cotton to canola, lawns to golf courses. So it stands to reason that the stuff winds up in our air and water. But when you're eating "Roundup Ready" food, as in, food that's been genetically modified to withstand all those dosings of Roundup, you're eating it too, according to plant pathologist Don Huber, PhD, professor emeritus at Purdue University. That's problematic because scientists are learning that Roundup affects defensive enzymes our bodies use to keep us healthy. Roundup also reduces a plant's ability to take up vital micronutrients that humans require for survival.

Better alternative: Corn, soy, and canola are common crops that have been genetically engineered to withstand heavy dousings of Roundup (or other glyphosate-containing chemicals), and foods containing these ingredients tend to contain higher levels of Roundup than other crops do. To avoid genetically engineered (GE) foods and Roundup in your food, buy organic.

7. Vinyl

Some environmental health groups have dubbed vinyl the "poison plastic," due to its harmful production process and its effects on humans. Vinyl is laced with phthalates, chemical plastic softeners linked to hormone disruption, stunted growth, obesity, and other health problems, as well as low IQs.

Better alternative: When it's time to replace flooring in your home, opt for wood, bamboo, or cork that's Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified or for real linoleum, instead of vinyl. Avoid plastic shower-curtain liners, as well as fake leather furniture, clothing, and accessories, to cut down on phthalate exposure. (Try hemp or organic cotton shower curtains.) Phthalates also lurk in anything with an artificial fragrance, including candles and many personal-care products

8. VOCs

Nasty indoor air-polluting culprits, volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, could be trashing your indoor air, especially in the kitchen, the basement, or even the laundry room. (Scented, petroleum-based laundry detergents contain high levels of VOCs.) These hazardous chemicals are linked to asthma and, in some instances, even cancer, and they add to indoor air pollution. Pressed wood and particleboard cabinets and other furniture are big emitters of the VOC (and carcinogen) formaldehyde in the home, too.

Better alternative: Choose unscented, plant-based detergents, or go old-school and use castile soap or washing soda and borax to clean your clothing. For new paint projects, choose readily available no-VOC paint, and avoid storing paint in your garage or basement—fumes can escape even tightly closed lids and enter your home. If you have leftover paint, take it to a waste-collection facility for recycling, or donate it to neighbors or a charity. Avoid plywood and particleboard when buying new household furnishings, and keep VOCs contained by sealing any plywood or particleboard furniture with a product like AFM Safecoat Safe Seal.

9. Flame Retardants

Flame-retardant chemicals can be found in electronics, carpets, carpet padding, and furniture foam. They've been associated with a wide range of health problems, including infertility, thyroid problems, learning disabilities, and hormone disruption. And the exposure to all these potential health threats could be for naught: Added to materials in the event they come in contact with a lit candle or cigarette, the chemicals only delay a fire, and for just a few seconds. When these flame retardants do burn, they release higher levels of carbon monoxide and soot, the two leading causes of fire-related deaths, than non-treated materials.

Better alternative: When shopping for new furniture, call the manufacturer and ask if it contains flame retardants. If you see a tag that says "complies with California Technical Bulletin 117," avoid bringing home that piece of furniture (California requires all upholstered furniture to be flame retardant, and nearly all furniture sold in the U.S. is made to comply with their law). And since flame retardants and other household toxins make their way into household dust, it's best to invest in a good vacuum. Take care when selecting electronics, too: Environmental Working Group lists electronics that are free of flame retardants.

10. Canned Food

Bisphenol A, or BPA, is a hormone-disrupting chemical linked to male infertility, diabetes, heart disease, aggressive behavior in children, and other ills. The chemical is used in some No. 7 plastic bottles and most canned-food containers, and although some manufacturers are phasing the chemical out of their cans, it's not clear that the replacements are totally safe either. In 2010, scientists discovered that we absorb BPA  from cash register receipts through our skin.

Better alternative: Opt for fresh or frozen fruits and veggies, and bypass cans as often as possible. Don't store food or beverages in plastic containers. And say no thanks to receipts for minor purchases like gas and coffee, and at the ATM.

11. Dry-Cleaning Chemicals

Sure, it's convenient to drop your clothing off with a dry cleaner, but the cleaning chemical of choice in this country remains perchloroethylene, also known as PCE, or perc. This chemical is classified a probable carcinogen and is linked to kidney, liver, and central nervous system damage. It's not something you want to wear or have holed up in your home closet. Although many states and cities are phasing out perc, it's still among the most widely used dry-cleaning chemicals.

Better alternative: You can work around "Dry Clean Only" instructions on clothing tags. You just need to know how to treat different types of fabric. Dry Clean Only? Nah, There Are Cheaper, Safer Ways for instructions on cleaning delicates like wool, rayon, and silk.

12. Coal Tar Driveway Sealant

If you plan to seal your blacktop driveway come spring, avoid coal tar–based sealants. They contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, which studies suggest can be toxic, causing cancer or other genetic mutations in your body. When rainwater and other precipitation hit your driveway, the toxic chemicals run off into your yard and into your local drinking water supply. In fact, this situation has been compared to dumping quarts of motor oil right down a storm drain.

Better alternative: Gravel and other porous materials are best for driveways because they allow rainwater to sink into the ground, where it gets filtered and doesn’t inundate water treatment plants. But if you do seal blacktop, pick asphalt sealant and stay away from any product that has coal tar in its name (or products simply called “driveway sealant”). Lowe’s and Home Depot have already banned the bad stuff, but smaller hardware stores may still carry it.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

WARNING !!! Mold Exposure a growing problem

Mold pollution is a key element of indoor air pollution that few people understand. Mold has been making the headlines more frequently over the last several years, largely as a result of Hurricane Katrina. And this year has brought enormous record-breaking floods in the U.S. not seen in more than a century, including the massive overflow of the Mississippi River, certain to activate serious mold infestations in certain areas of the country.
If you live in one of those water-stricken areas, you could already be "sleeping with the enemy."
Along with obvious places such as shower stalls and damp basements, there can be many hidden sources of mold in your home. Particularly if you've had plumbing problems or leaks in your roof, mold may grow and release spores from places such as behind drywall, under carpet or carpet padding, or in wood.
But mold can find its way into some rather surprising places. One study found that even Christmas trees can breed mold, quietly releasing millions of spores into the room and causing winter allergies and asthma attacks. The study found that indoor air quality dropped six-fold over the 14 days a Christmas tree typically decorates a room. Millions of mold spores may even be hiding in your pillows. And, surprisingly, if you live in a dry climate you may be even MORE at risk—mold grows routinely in desert regions, and the desert naturally selects the most tenacious forms.

Mold Can Be Deadly

What many people don't realize is that mold can make you extremely sick, or even kill you. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), all molds have the potential to cause ill health. The type and severity of your symptoms depend, in part, on the types of mold present, the extent of your exposure, your age and general health, and your existing sensitivities or allergies.
At a 2003 environmental medicine symposium in Dallas, studies of more than 1,600 patients suffering health issues related to fungal exposure were presented. These patients experienced major medical problems, including the following:
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Headache, anxiety, depression, memory loss, and visual disturbances
  • Immune system disturbances and fatigue
  • GI problems
  • Shortness of breath
Yet, medical professionals are sometimes not up to speed on how extensive and devastating mold can be to human health, often missing important biological clues that you're being affected by mold. It is important to be aware of these potential problems because your physician may NOT be, and you need to take the wheel as your own health advocate.

Mold's Favorite Places in Your Home

Fungi grow by releasing reproductive cells (spores) into the air, just as plants reproduce by spreading seeds. The airborne spores are invisible to the naked eye, which is a major reason mold is such a problem. It is not uncommon to find hundreds or even thousands of mold spores per cubic foot of indoor air. Spores are extremely small (1-100 microns)—20 million spores would fit on a postage stamp.
Spores can survive harsh environmental conditions, such as dryness, that do not support normal mold growth. In fact, many spores can lie dormant for decades until favorable conditions allow them to spring back to life.
Molds can be found almost anywhere; they can grow on virtually any substance, provided moisture and oxygen are present. There are molds that can grow on wood, paper, carpet, tile, sheetrock, insulation, leather, fabrics and foods. Molds survive by digesting whatever substrate they are growing on, which is a real problem when it happens to be your floorboards. There is no way to eliminate all mold and mold spores from your indoor environment; the only way to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture. The most common indoor places for mold to take hold are damp areas, such as:
  • Bathrooms and kitchens, especially under sinks—particularly leaky ones
  • Behind or under appliances that hide slow plumbing leaks (refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines, etc.)
  • Roof leaks
  • Around windows where condensation collects
  • High humidity areas of your home, such as basements
Often, the first sign of a mold problem is a "musty" odor. You are probably familiar with the smell of mildew—mildew is simply a variety of mold. You could also notice bowed or buckled floorboards, discolored carpet, a new water stain on your wall, or black or white specks—all signs you could be developing a mold problem. But what type of life form is mold?

Types of Fungus Among Us

Mold is a type of fungus, as are mushrooms and yeast. There are between 100,000 and 400,000 types of fungi (estimates vary), and of these, scientists have identified more than 1,000 types of mold growing inside houses across America. Molds are classified into three groups according to human responses:
  1. Allergenic Molds: These don't usually produce life-threatening effects and are most problematic if you are allergic or asthmatic. The challenge is in figuring out what you are sensitive to. Children are particularly susceptible to mold allergies.
  2. Pathogenic Molds: These produce some sort of infection, which is of particular concern if your immune system is suppressed. They can cause hypersensitivity pneumonitis, an acute response resembling bacterial pneumonia. An example is Aspergillus fumigatus, which can grow in the lungs of immune-compromised individuals.
  3. Toxigenic Molds (aka "toxic molds"): These dangerous molds produce mycotoxins, which can have serious health effects on almost anyone. Possible reactions include immunosuppression and cancer. Mycotoxins are chemical toxins present within or on the surface of the mold spore, which you then unwittingly inhale, ingest, or touch. An example of this is aflatoxin, one of the most potent carcinogens known to mankind. Aflatoxin grows on peanuts and grains, and on some other foods.
The five most common indoor mold varieties are:
  1. Alternaria: Commonly found in your nose, mouth and upper respiratory tract; can cause allergic responses
  2. Aspergillus: Usually found in warm, extremely damp climates, and a common occupant of house dust; produces mycotoxins; can cause lung infections (aspergillosis)
  3. Cladosporium: This very common outdoor fungus can find its way indoors to grow on textiles, wood and other damp, porous materials; triggers hay fever and asthma symptoms
  4. Penicillium: Very common species found on wallpaper, decaying fabrics, carpet, and fiberglass duct insulation; known for causing allergies and asthma; some species produce mycotoxins, one being the common antibiotic penicillin
  5. Stachybotrys: Extremely toxic "black mold" that produces mycotoxins that can cause serious breathing difficulties and bleeding of the lungs, among other health problems; thankfully, less common in homes than the other four, but not rare; found on wood or paper (cellulose products), but NOT on concrete, linoleum or tile

Mycotoxins: From Antibiotics to Biological Warfare Agents

Molds produce a number of powerful substances that can affect your health in beneficial or detrimental ways. It should come as no surprise that fungi produce potent biologically active compounds—after all, lysergic acid (the parent compound of LSD) is produced by a mushroom! And penicillin is a mycotoxin produced by the mold Penicillium, better known as an antibiotic.
Some mold compounds are volatile and released directly into the air, known as microbial volatile organic compounds (mVOCs). Fragments of the cell walls of molds (glucans) can also be inhaled and cause inflammatory respiratory reactions, including a flu-like illness called Organic Dust Toxic Syndrome (ODTS).
But the most serious danger comes from highly poisonous agents called mycotoxins.
More than 200 mycotoxins have been identified from common molds. Mycotoxins interfere with RNA synthesis and may cause DNA damage. The mycotoxins that have probably received the most attention by researchers are the trichothecenes, produced byStachybotyrs chartarum and Aspergillus versicolor. Mycotoxins, even in minute quantities, are lipid-soluble and readily absorbed by your intestinal lining, airways and skin. Some are so poisonous that they have been studied and developed as biological warfare agents as far back as the 1940s. Aflatoxin and trichothecenes are prime examples.
Even spores that are no longer able to reproduce can still harm your health due to these mycotoxins—in other words, "dead" mold spores are every bit as dangerous as "live" ones. The spores do not produce the toxins—rather, it is thought that the toxins are produced when the spores are produced, by the mold colony.  Scientists believe that mycotoxins are the organism's way of holding a competitive edge by defeating other organisms that are trying to thrive in the same environment—like humans, for example.

Adverse Health Affects from Mold

A lot of people end up treating the symptoms of mold exposure and never get to the root of the problem. Oftentimes they don't even make the connection that mold is the cause of their problems… and neither does their physician. According to mycotoxin expert Dr. Harriet Ammann, exposure to indoor molds can damage the systems of your body in the following ways:
Vascular: blood vessel fragility, hemorrhage from tissues or lungsDigestive: diarrhea, vomiting, hemorrhage, liver damage, fibrosis and necrosis
Respiratory: trouble breathing, bleeding from lungsNeurological: tremors, loss of coordination, headaches, depression, multiple sclerosis
Skin: rashes, burning, sloughing, photosensitivityUrinary: kidney toxicity
Reproductive: infertility, changes in reproductive cyclesImmune: Immunosuppression

One of the challenges of diagnosing a mold allergy is that reactions are so variable from one person to another. Some people start having memory problems, while others may experience sudden changes in disposition, such as agitation, anger, panic, or depression. Headaches are common but don't affect everyone exposed to mold.
Common symptoms are:
  • Coughing and wheezing
  • Sinus problems and post-nasal drip
  • Itchy rashes
  • Joint pain
If you would like more information about how to recognize a mold reaction and how to read your own body's "silent alarm system," I highly recommend listening to my interview with Dr. Doris Rapp.  Dr. Rapp is a mold expert and author of several books, including Our Toxic World: A Wake Up Call.

What You Don't Know CAN Hurt You: The Billings Story

Kurt and Lee Ann Billings learned the hard way about the damaging health effects of mold—and the level of ignorance about mold's effects by medical professionals. Living in a home in the outer impact zone of Hurricane Katrina, they suffered a progressive array of symptoms for which their physicians had no solution. They later discovered that their illness was due to mold infestation in their home.
What started as tightness and burning in their chests and itchy eyes soon progressed into severely diminished lung capacity that did not resolve, despite moving out of their home. After extensive research and eventually recovering their health, they wrote the book Mold: The War Within in hopes of educating a poorly informed and disadvantaged public.
On page 11, they write:
"It appears, based on our experiences and research, that much of the medical community is stuck in a time warp when it comes to fungal illnesses—even in regard to the notably researched and highly publicized condition of fungal-induced sinusitis."
What they are referring to is research done by the Mayo Clinic in the 1990s that strongly suggests NEARLY ALL chronic sinusitis (inflammation of the membranes of your nose and sinus cavities) is caused by fungi, but blamed on bacteria—then mistreated using antibiotics. The findings were published in 1999 in two peer-reviewed journals, Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology and Mayo Clinic Proceedings. Yet, the Billings report that most physicians are unaware of this study, or at least of its significance.
A 1999 Mayo Clinic press release stated:
"Mayo Clinic researchers say they have found the cause of most chronic sinus infections—an immune system response to fungus.
The Mayo Clinic study suggests that 96 percent of the people who suffer from chronic sinusitis are "fungal sensitized," meaning they have immune responses triggered by inhaled fungal organisms.
According to Billings, 37 million people in the U.S. suffer from chronic sinusitis, and its incidence has been increasing over the past decade. Yet, most physicians continue to believe that fungi are an uncommon cause of respiratory infections, accounting for less than 10 percent. Furthermore, in most cases, antibiotics are not effective for chronic sinusitis because they target bacteria, NOT fungi. Antibiotics and steroids can actually worsen fungal-related infections by destroying your body's natural biological terrain, creating an internal incubation ground for fungi.
This points to an enormous number of chronic sinus infections that are being misdiagnosed and mistreated!
The bottom line in all of this is, if you have chronic sinusitis, you MUST approach it from the perspective of a fungal infection, not a bacterial infection, even if it means having to educate your healthcare provider. A good place to start is by sharing the Mayo Clinic study referenced above. Mold: The War Within is also a useful resource for you and your physician (you can read a review by NORMI here, the National Organization of Remediators and Mold Inspectors).

What to Do Once You've Established that Mold is a Problem

Mold spores are very difficult to destroy, even with cleaning agents such as hot water or bleach (which is itself toxic). The best way to reduce the problem is through smart preventive measures. According to Dr. Rapp, first and foremost you want to get away from the problematic area—which means move if you have to.
She warns:
"I've seen people try to stay in a moldy house when their child is very sick or they are very sick. They try to clean the place up. They take out the moldy carpet and decide to paint the moldy walls. But they can become so desperately ill that it is very hard to treat them in the future."
If you can't move, there are other remedial steps you need to take to address the problem:
  • Get a high quality air purifier to control mold toxins. In addition to the mold itself, you need to make sure you get rid of any mold toxins. When a mold breaks down, it disintegrates, and every little particle may contain mycotoxins that have the capability of making you very sick.

    One option is a photocatalytic oxidation (PCO) unit. I personally like these because they cover the whole house (up to 3000 square feet), require little maintenance, and are relatively inexpensive. 
***Please understand that no air filter in the world will take care of mold issues until you have the humidity under control and the mold properly cleaned from your house.
  • Professional remediation. If your mold problem is sizeable, or if you have black mold, you may want to consider hiring a professional remediator. Unless proper precautions are taken, undertaking black mold removal on your own can be almost as hazardous as doing nothing at all, because spores will be stirred up and sent airborne during the cleaning process.

    This may not be cheap, but it's better than the alternative. If you catch the problem early, you can save yourself tens of thousands of dollars in extra clean up costs. (Trust me, as I made this mistake myself and wouldn't want to see anyone else go through it.) Make sure a remediator doesn't use chemicals you're sensitive to—a chemical allergy is the LAST thing you need while you are recovering from a mold poisoning!

Warning!  Be Careful How You Chose Your Remediator

By Dr. Mercola
There is no question that a high quality active air purifier can help control mold issues but it will NOT remediate against them.  You can use the best air filters and purifiers and they will never solve the problem if you continue to have water intrusion into you home that increases the humidity and feeds the growth of the mold.
You will need to stop the water at its source and carefully remove and clean the mold infested materials. While this may superficially seem an easy task, let me assure you that it isn't. 
I recently had a leak in my basement that was improperly remediated for $10K and the cause was not addressed so the problem worsened, which more than tripled the price to properly clean it up.  That is part of the reason that prompted me to contact some of the leading experts in this area and learn how to do this properly.
So let me tell you from personal experience, you need to fine a qualified expert and professional that is certified by one of the agencies below.  I would also suggest getting several bids for the work. You can find a contractor or professional listings on the following sites. Both the IICRC and NORMI are certifying organizations for mold remediation, but the IICRC certification is perhaps the most widely used:
  • IICRC (Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification)
  • ACAC (American Council for Accredited Certification)—a certifying body that is third-party accredited.
  • The IAQA (Indoor Air Quality Association)—a membership organization with no certification program (the ACAC handles this by agreement)
  • RIA (Restoration Industry Association)
  • NORMI (National Organization of Remediators and Mold Inspectors) 
Keep in mind that a mere certification or listing may not be enough. Also evaluate the remediator's qualifications and insurance (liability as well as workman's comp). With the ACAC, there are a few different levels.

A Great Natural Treatment for Mold Allergy

If you have a mold allergy, there is a little-known treatment strategy that Dr. Rapp describes as "one of the best hidden secrets." It's called provocation neutralization.
Provocation neutralization (PN) offers allergy sufferers permanent relief with virtually no side effects, whether the allergy is to mold or something else. The success rate for this approach is very high, and you can receive the treatment at home.
Provocation refers to "provoking a change" and neutralization refers to "neutralizing the reaction caused by provocation." During provocation-neutralization, a small amount of allergen is injected under your skin to produce a small bump called a "wheal" and then you are monitored for a reaction. If you have a positive reaction, such as fatigue or headache, or a growth in the size of the wheal, then the allergen is neutralized with diluted injections of the same allergen. If you are interested in pursuing PN, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) has a list of physicians who are trained in this technique.
There is also research suggesting vitamin D may prevent mold allergies, so make sure your vitamin D levels are optimal.